European Union citizens who fall on hard times while studying in another member state can now claim social benefits, the European Court of Justice has ruled.
The ruling follows the case of Rudy Grzelczyk, a Frenchman studying physical education at Belgium's University of Louvain-la-Neuve.
He applied for benefit in his final year when his studies became too demanding to work part time to support himself.
Mr Grzelczyk was granted an allowance for 1998-99 but it was withdrawn. The ECJ ruled "he had suffered discrimination solely on the ground of his nationality".
It noted that EU law does "not bar students from subsequently having recourse to the social security system of a host member state".
The ECJ ruled that EUtreaty obligations outlawed "entitlement to non-contributory social benefits from being made conditional on a criterion which need not be satisfied by nationals of the host member state".
The ruling could affect student support schemes. In England and Wales, EU nationals can apply for help with tuition fees, but they are not eligible for student loans, supplementary grants, hardship loans or access funds. This case could be used as a precedent by foreign students seeking such support.